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Today I want to write about a simple approach to demonstrating the mind-body connection and how the mind can strengthen the body.
May your week be filled with love, joy, peace, and strength,
It's difficult to teach patients about the invisible realm of energy, thoughts, and intentions. In response to my awkward explanations about energy and its connection to physical function, when I first learned about energy medicine, a patient said, "That's evil."
After that experience, I resolved to be a better teacher.
Over the years, I've tried to perfect my skill in showing patients the link between the mind and the body. Before demonstrating the mind-body connection, however, I usually preface it with:
"In quantum physics, E=MC2--matter and energy are interchangeable. Everything, all matter, can be thought of as being made of energy. The body can be seen from these two perspectives also, as organized matter and as organized energy. As matter, the body moves through space. As energy, the body shifts through vibration."
I also say: "The body is like a light bulb. For it to shine, it needs the bulb and the electricity to flow through it. Using functional medicine is like fixing the physical light bulb. Using energy medicine is like fixing the electricity flowing to the light bulb. Both are important aspects of helping your life to shine."
Then, I go through my "Show and Tell" about the mind-body connection:
- To show how the body's strength shifts with changes in energy/information, I ask the patients to sit with their feet firmly planted on the ground. It's a series of experiments, so I want them to be consistent each time. Have them rest a few seconds between each trial to be consistent.
- The patient is asked to extend her/his arm (doesn't matter if it's the right or left) straight in front of them at about shoulder height, while you push down with gradually increasing pressure at a point about two inches above the wrist with your fingers. It is helpful to rest one hand on their shoulder for balance. To get a "baseline," the patient is asked to clear her/his mind and resist as hard as they can (just for consistency sake) while you gradually push down. You can change how/where you push down on their arm so that it only takes moderate effort to push their arm all the way down (not too hard or too easy). This is not a contest, so the patient is asked not to overstrain themselves when resisting.
- After the baseline, the patient is asked to focus on three different states of mind and their opposites: a) true vs. false thoughts, b) happy vs. sad feelings, and c) positive vs. negative words.
For true vs. false, I use 2+2=4 vs. 2+2=6. This information is not colored by emotions and is easy for most to distinguish as being true vs. false. For happy vs. sad, I ask the patient to think of an image, event, or person that brings the corresponding feeling. For positive vs. negative words, I usually use the words "yes" vs. "no." I will explain that the words "yes" and "no" are not inherently good or bad, but one can think of it as saying "yes to life" or "no to life."
- During each thought, for example, 2+2=4, push down on their arm with gradually increasing pressure to get their level of strength. Rest a moment before testing them while they are focusing on the opposite thought, for example, 2+2=6.
- True thoughts, happy feelings, and positive words will result in a stronger hold (above baseline), while false thoughts, unhappy feelings, and negative words will result in a weaker hold (below baseline). The difference in strength is generally obvious to the patient and to you, the tester. These examples teach the patient that differences in thoughts, feelings, and words shift the strength and resilience of their arm, and by extension, the strength and resilience of their body. The body's state of "health/being" is shifting all the time through shifts in energy and consciousness.
At this point, most patients are wondering, "Why doesn't everyone know about this?" They are now eager to learn how to use their mind to help heal their body.
The next step is to have the patient practice doing Energy Breaths--a simple guided visualization to help strengthen the body. Since concrete evidence facilitates the understanding that thoughts/intentions have a powerful and immediate impact on the body, I will retest their arm after they finish doing Energy Breaths. If the patient has focused enough to do the technique, their arm will be much stronger and will be able to resist strong pressure for a very long time.
This is "evidence-based medicine" energy medicine style. In the field of energy medicine, it's also called "muscle testing." These simple cause-and-effect demonstrations form a bridge between energy and matter and are an indispensable teaching tool at a minimum.
Of course, a few will not be testable. Some examples may be if:
- They've recently abused substances, such as Percocet.
- They are psychotic and not able to think logically or follow directions.
- They are being closed-minded and cynical while doing the test. Their cynicism will muddy the tests' results.
- They have a lot of oxidative stress or mechanical pain and can't hold their arm with consistent strength from one test to another.
Using evidence helps patients to connect the invisible world of thoughts to their concrete effects. As hard as it is to accept, "evidence-based medicine" doesn't always have to come from a lab, or within the pages of a journal. Evidence-based medicine can easily be done during a session to empower patients with the understanding they need to heal.